Basic Ice Cream

Basic Ice Cream

Never made homemade ice cream before? It’s ridiculously easy, and sooo much better than store-bought (if you need a little encouragement, read my post about it here).

Start by using this basic recipe to make a great homemade vanilla. Then branch out and use the recipe to make mint ice cream, Earl Grey tea ice cream, basil ice cream, cinnamon, lavender, you name it. (See below for how to make a few of the near-endless possible variations.)

Makes about 1 1/2 quarts

  • 2 cups whole milk
  • 1 2/3 cups heavy cream
  • 1/2 vanilla bean, split and scraped, or other flavor infusion (see below)
  • 8 large egg yolks
  • 3/4 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

In a medium heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the milk and cream and heat until the mixture is just beginning to bubble at the edges. Remove from heat, add the vanilla or other flavor infusion, and let steep for 30 minutes.

In a medium bowl, whisk the yolks and sugar until smooth. Whisk a small amount of the warm milk mixture into the egg mixture, then pour the whole egg mixture into the milk mixture. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, to 170°F, until the ice cream base coats the back of a spoon (how long this takes will depend on how hot your milk got in the previous step, how much it cooled while steeping, and the size of your saucepan). Immediately strain it through a medium mesh strainer. Stir in the salt and thoroughly chill.

When the custard is completely cool, taste and add more salt if you like. Freeze according to your ice cream maker's manufacturer's instructions.

FLAVOR INFUSION IDEAS
1/2 to 3/4 cup herb leaves, pureed in a food processor with about 2 tablespoons of sugar - basil, mint, rosemary, lemon verbena, etc
2 to 3 bags of your favorite tea
Spices - 2 to 3 sticks cinnamon, 6 to 8 star anise, 4 to 6 inches chopped fresh ginger, 3 to 4 dried chiles
3 to 4 sprigs lavender
Citrus zest